Lunch Buddies take the plunge


 By Sue Cody

Lunch Buddy 1About 30 people took the “Plunge” into Coffenbury Lake Sept. 12 in support of Clatsop County’s Lunch Buddy Mentoring Program. Executive Director Mary Jackson said the event was a great way to get families involved in the program.

Children and parents ran into the lake, swam, played games and enjoyed a healthy snack. The fundraising event grossed about $680. Jackson said she would like to make this event a tradition.


The Lunch Buddy Mentoring Program pairs adult mentors with at-risk children or those struggling in school. They meet one day a week during the lunch hour.

The 2014-15 school year ended with 38 mentors serving 43 children, Jackson said. The volunteers serve students in all elementary and middle schools in the county. There are 28 returning mentors and 11 potential new ones. All mentors need to have criminal and fingerprint background checks, reference checks and training.

The adult volunteers work with children who might need extra social support. Some students may feel shy or awkward, Jackson said.

Lunch Buddy 2The Lunch Buddy program is based on the Big Brothers Big Sisters programs. Research shows that with adult mentoring, students can stabilize their grades and are less likely to miss school and take drugs, Jackson said.

Volunteer Beth LaFleur mentors a second-grader, providing a positive role model. LaFleur said her “buddy” looks forward to the days when they share lunch. They can engage in one-on-one conversation, talk about table manners and discuss how to handle situations differently.

“A lot of it is small talk,” LaFleur said. “What kind of food do you like? If you could be an animal, what would it be?” The attention helps build self-esteem in the student, she said.

There are still children in need and opportunities for mentors. For information or registration, call Mary Jackson at 503-440-0368 or email